Page last updated at 14:09 GMT, Monday, 28 July 2008 15:09 UK

New job please, Carol?

By Nadia Dahabiyeh
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Carol Vorderman
Carol Vorderman was honoured with an MBE in 2000

Carol Vorderman, who is quitting Channel 4 quiz show Countdown, may just have become the first TV presenter to fall victim to the credit crunch.

Her agent said she felt forced to step down when she was told to take a 90% pay cut from a salary reportedly in the region of £1m.

While advertising revenues continue to fall and viewers migrate to digital channels, presenters could face some tough times as television companies tighten their budgets.

The media landscape was very different when Vorderman began her career on Countdown in 1982, aged 21, after her mother spotted a newspaper advert looking for a woman with good mathematical skills to appear as co-host on a quiz show.

The Bedford-born Cambridge graduate soon earned a reputation as a brainbox, coming up with speedy solutions to the show's number puzzles, which frequently stumped the contestants.

Carol Vorderman
Carol Vorderman was booted off Strictly Come Dancing's second episode

The modest programme became a breakout hit - running with almost no changes to its format for the last 26 years.

Speaking of the show's success, Vorderman said: "A lot of television today is quite derivative, but Countdown is a pure idea.

"It's simply based on puzzles and crosswords that never go out of fashion."

For the first 23 years, Vorderman shared the screen with affable Yorkshireman Richard Whiteley and his vivid jackets.

When he died unexpectedly after having heart surgery in 2005, Vordeman said she was "absolutely devastated".

"He was one of life's big, open, funny characters. He was colourful in all ways," she added.

By this time, Vorderman's career had blossomed beyond her role in "numbers corner".

She took a high-profile role on the BBC science show Tomorrow's World in 1995 - but was dropped after taking part in a commercial for Ariel washing powder.

The role was, in the opinion of BBC management, a conflict of interest.

Carol Vorderman
Carol Vorderman is one of the highest paid women on television

'Anorexic transvestite'

Undeterred, Vorderman moved to ITV and presented several shows - among them The Pride of Britain Awards, What Will They Think of Next, Tested to Destruction, How 2 on CITV and the popular Better Homes.

The 47-year-old also hosted Stars And Their Lives, on which Sir Paul McCartney first declared his love for Heather Mills.

In 1999 the presenter embarked on a rigorous diet and exercise regime, swapping her conservative look for a sexier, sophisticated image in the process.

She shrank from a size 14 to a size eight and binned her trouser suits for more glamorous dresses.

At the time she told the Daily Mail newspaper: "I've never felt better. I have bucket loads of energy and I love the effect it has had on my skin and my face."

But in 2003, she entered into a war of words with fashion gurus Trinny and Susannah, branding the former an "anorexic transvestite" and her colleague a "cart-horse in a bin liner".

Vorderman's comments followed the duo's criticism of the strapless mini dress she chose for the Baftas in 2000.

They said: "The problem with Carol Vorderman is that she went from kind of a librarian on Countdown to this sex goddess."

Cashing in

Aside from her television career, Vorderman has penned a number of children's maths books and diet books including the number one best-seller Detox for Life.

Carol Vorderman
Carol Vorderman at the Baftas in 2000

Over the last few years, she has launched several Sudoku products, among them a brain training game called Carol Vorderman's Mind Aerobics, and a video game for the PlayStation 2

Her advertising career landed her in trouble again earlier this year, when debt charities called for her to stop promoting First Plus, a lender that offered debt consolidation loans.

After her contract came to an end, the star decided not to renew her association with the company.

Vorderman has also appeared on Strictly Come Dancing and ITV's Gameshow Marathon, which she won.

Anthea Turner, Ulrika Jonsson and Mylene Klass are odds-on favourites to replace her on Countdown according to the betting agent William Hill.

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